Are All Bodily Fluids Considered Medical Waste?

Are All Bodily Fluids Considered Medical Waste?

Medical waste encompasses a wide range of waste types. One important type of medical waste is items contaminated with bodily fluids. These materials are considered biohazardous waste, and there are local and state regulations regarding the safe handling and disposal of these waste items. But are all bodily fluids regarded as medical waste? Can all bodily fluids be infectious waste? 

Why Are Bodily Fluids Dangerous? 

The human body produces many different types of fluids as a part of normal human function. However, many bodily fluids can easily transmit serious communicable diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis B, when a person comes into contact with them. All bodily fluids containing suspected or visible blood traces are considered hazardous, even if they are otherwise low-risk fluids. 

High-Risk vs. Low-Risk Fluids 

Not all bodily fluids carry the same infectious risk. According to Universal Precautions, certain bodily fluids are more likely to be hazardous. High-risk bodily fluids include: 

  • Blood 
  • Any low- or high-risk fluid with visible blood 
  • Synovial fluid 
  • Pericardial fluid 
  • Pleural fluid 
  • Vaginal secretions 
  • Semen 
  • Cerebrospinal fluid 
  • Amniotic fluid 

Low-risk bodily fluids may not carry the same risk of infection. These fluids include: 

  • Saliva
  • Sweat 
  • Feces 
  • Vomit 
  • Tears 
  • Urine 

However, any low-risk fluid with any visible blood traces is then considered a high-risk fluid. Low-risk bodily fluids are also treated as high-risk if it is impossible to determine whether fluids are mixed or what types of fluids are present. 

All bodily fluids generate medical waste. 

Types of Medical Waste 

While bodily fluids do create medical waste, there are different terms people encounter depending on the type of contamination, as well as local and state laws concerning safe disposal.

What Is Infectious Waste? 

Infectious waste is any waste that includes: 

  • Cultures or stocks of infectious agents from laboratory work 
  • Waste contaminated by bodily fluids or blood 
  • Waste from patients with infections 

What Is Biohazardous Waste? 

Although many people use the terms infectious waste and biohazardous waste interchangeably, there is a difference. Infectious waste could potentially infect another person whether the material is dry, semi-liquid, or liquid. However, the biohazardous waste contains infectious or potentially infectious material. Therefore, infectious waste is a type of biohazardous waste. 

What Is Regulated Waste? 

Waste can be a medical waste even without any bodily fluids or pathogens, but when either of these things is present, then the medical waste becomes regulated waste. Regulated waste can also include contaminated sharps and items with caked or dried fluids that may be infectious. 

Safely Handling Bodily Fluids and Medical Waste 

It’s always best to err on the side of caution. Medical Waste Pros can help you create a disposal service that keeps your staff safe and compliant. Call us at (888) 755-6370. We offer free quotes for medical waste disposal services and training programs if you fill out our contact form.